Thursday, 7 January 2010

Beef and Lamb Meatballs baked in Tahini

This dish, which comes from the Ottolenghi cookbook, makes an unusual use of tahini, adding it with meatballs to create a creamy, sesame consistency that tastes rich when smothered with the meatballs and some greek yogurt. This dish and variations on it, common in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, makes this a peculiar and bold dish. I did not have beef or lamb, so I replaced it with minced pork meat.

35g stale white bread, crusts removed
300g minced beef
300g minced lamb
3 garlic cloves, crushed
35g flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon
1 free-range egg
light olive oil for frying
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 lemon, quartered
Greek Yogurt to serve

Tahini sauce
150ml tahini paste
150ml water
70ml white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

First make the tahini sauce. Whisk together all ingredients until it turns smooth and creamy, with a thick sauce-like consistency. You may need to add more water. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 200C. Soak bread in cold water for 2-3 minutes, then squeeze water our and crumble bread into mixing bowl. Add meat, garlic, parsley, salt, spices and egg and mix well with your hands.
Shape meat into balls the size of golf balls. Heat olive oil in frying pan and fry in small batches till golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side.
Soak the meatballs with kitchen paper towels, then place on oven for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove from oven, pour the tahini sauce over and into the roasting pan, and roast for another 8-10 minutes. The tahini will take on just a bit of color and thicken up. The meatballs should be cooked through.
Transfer to individual plates, garnish liberally with parsley and zest and serve at once, generously squeezing lemon juice over meatballs.
A plate of the meatballs with Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds, cherry tomatoes tossed with basil and olive oil, fried haloumi chips and leftover rice pilaf.

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